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8 Iodine-Rich Foods You Need In Your Diet, Says Science

August 14, 2023

If the word iodine makes you think of salt, you know what you’re talking about. Iodine is a mineral that is found naturally in some foods and specific types of salt. Iodine is important because your body uses it to make thyroid hormones. Without the right amount of thyroid hormones, your body can’t regulate many normal processes, like metabolism, heart rate, body temperature, or digestion. Hence why having iodine-rich foods in your diet is crucial for keeping all of your levels in check.

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People who need more iodine-rich foods

person eating a bowl of greek yogurt with granola


While it is rare for people in the United States to be deficient in iodine, in some parts of the world, people easily be deficient. However, there are a few groups known for being iodine deficient that should consider incorporating more iodine-rich foods into their diet. These groups include:

  • Pregnant women: The recommended daily allowance for iodine increases during pregnancy, and studies show that some pregnant women may be mildly deficient in iodine, even without symptoms. You definitely don’t want to skimp on the iodine during pregnancy – it’s essential for your baby to grow and develop normally.
  • People who follow a vegan diet: Many animal foods are high in iodine, so if you choose not to include them in your diet, you may need to take special care to increase your iodine intake.
  • People who eat a few iodine-rich foods and also eat a lot of goitrogens: Goitrogens are substances that block your body from absorbing much iodine. They’re found in soy and cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower and broccoli. Those foods have many health benefits, so you can continue to eat them, but make sure you’re also eating plenty of iodine-rich foods.

Iodine is necessary for all mammals, which is why farmers put out mineral blocks, or “salt licks” for cattle, sheep, goats, and other animals to lick. Iodine is definitely key for the health of many species, including us.

With that in mind, here are iodine-rich foods to remember to include in your diet for good health.

1. Cod fish

coked cod on a plate with roasted vegetables and basil


This delicate, white fish has a mild flavor, so if you’re not a huge fan of seafood, you might still like cod. It doesn’t taste too fishy, the meat is firm and tasty, and eating fish has tons of health benefits. Cod contains plenty of protein and B vitamins, and is a rich source of iodine, with 106% of your daily value in just three ounces.

2. Greek yogurt

Like most dairy foods, Greek yogurt is packed with calcium and protein. Greek yogurt is strained yogurt, meaning it’s thicker than regular yogurt and usually has less carbohydrates and sugar. It comes in a variety of delicious flavors, from plain to strawberry to mango and even chocolate. And as a bonus, it contains more than half of your daily value of iodine.

Related: 8 Healthy Greek Yogurt Desserts That Don’t Use Refined Sugar

3. Seaweed (nori)

bowl of nori


If you’re a fan of sushi rolls, you’re no doubt familiar with nori, the dried sheets of seaweed used in Japanese cuisine. Even if you don’t like sushi, you can buy nori at most grocery stores and nibble on it for the nutrition, or tear it up and add it to a soup. Nori is full of vitamins and calcium, and the best part is it contains more than 75% of your daily value of iodine.

4. Milk

smiling woman holding a glass of milk


They were right: milk does a body good. Not only is cow’s milk packed with protein, calcium, and vitamin D, but one cup also contains more than half of your daily value of iodine. Some people choose to drink alternative milks like soy, oat, or almond milk. These types of milk have a lot of good nutrition, and they’re easier on the stomach for people who live with lactose intolerance, but it’s important to remember that only cow’s milk contains iodine.

5. Ice cream

scooping cottage cheese ice cream finished in a container


Everyone deserves a treat now and then, right? Ice cream may have plenty of sugar, but as a now-and-then kind of treat, you’ll be getting all the nutrition that milk and cream contain. That includes vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and even some protein. And ice cream contains about 20% of your daily value of iodine. There are even some low-sugar ice creams on the market these days, just be sure to check their iodine content.

6. Cheese

board with different types of cheese


Cheese is a delicious addition to tacos, soup, pasta, omelets, and more. It’s also a dairy food, which means it’s packed with protein, vitamin D, and calcium. One more great thing about cheese is that it contains iodine too. Just one ounce of cheddar cheese contains about 10% of your daily value.

7. Shrimp

Grilled Shrimp Skewers


If you’re a fan of seafood, you’ll be happy to know that shrimp (not to mention most other seafood, like oysters and even fish sauce) are iodine-rich foods. Shrimp is a great food to build a meal around: shrimp tacos and shrimp pasta come to mind. Shrimp contains protein, potassium, magnesium, and of course, a rich supply of iodine. Just three ounces have 10% of your daily value.

Related: 12 Delicious Ways to Turn Frozen Shrimp Into Dinner

8. Salt

person sprinkling salt in a salad


This one probably isn’t a surprise. You’ve probably seen iodized salt at the store. Back in the 1830s, a French scientist found that goiters (enlarged thyroid glands) were rare in people who ate iodized salt, and iodine is even used to shrink goiters. Since that discovery, it’s been added to table salt in most countries.

Specialty salts have become popular lately, like pink Himalayan salt, sea salt, or kosher salt. While some of these contain minerals, which make them a good addition to your meal, they do not contain iodine. If you use them exclusively in your home, make sure you include iodine-rich foods in your diet to get the full health benefits.

Read next: 7 Antioxidant-Rich Foods to Ward off Chronic Disease

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